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النشر الإلكتروني

No. XXV.

But thou shalt flourish in immortal youth,
Unhurt, amidst the war of elements,
The wreck of matter, and the crush of worlds.

ADD. CATO.

Sir, I am an old man, as you are; and when I reflect on the fantastic vicissitude of human affairs; when I consider the shortness of life, and the small pretensions I have to any longer share in it, it fills my mind with something grave, solemn, and, I must own, melancholy: but when I give my thoughts a more unbounded scope, and pass over that short intermission of life, into the contemplation of an eternal being, my mind recovers from that gloom which the first reflection filled me with, and grows gay in proportion to the influence which this latter has upon

it. I was last night reading that celebrated speech of Cato, whence I have taken the motto with which I head this letter; and whether it was from the serious thoughts which that soliloquy inspired, or the last strong glimpses of a mind almost expiring, and habituated to such speculations, I am not able to determine; but I was no sooner fallen asleep, than the following dream (or rather vision) grew into form, and filled my fancy.

Methought the dreadful hour was come, in which I was to resign this life: my bed was surrounded by a silent company of weeping friends, whose sorrows touched me more than my own approaching dissolution, which happened in less time than human nature can conceive; and therefore (though at that period I felt it sensibly) it is impossible I should now describe it. I was no sooner freed from the incumbrance and obscurity of matter, but my soul became refined to such an infinite degree of conception, that my eyes, having nothing to interrupt or confine their view, were strengthened with such piercing beams, that they darted every glance through an innumerable progression of worlds, and illuminated me with a particular and perfect knowledge of the harmony and fabric of each extended system.

Whilst I was thus lost in contemplation (for infinite space, like an endless source, still afforded me new objects to nourish that inextinguishable thirst of knowledge which is the employment of eternal life), I felt a heavenly transport, which diffused itself swifter than thought through the frame of my new being; and which, at the same time it made my soul tremble with its influence, invigorated and enabled it to support the energy.

I now enjoyed a perfect felicity; and whilst my

soul (whose desire of knowledge increased in proportion with its power to gratify it) employed each different sensation in pursuit of that branch which was peculiar to its nature; on a sudden I heard an universal crack, which seemed to arise from the whole number of created worlds, and resounded from globe to globe, with a long continuance of reverberated uproars.

At last, the chain that linked them in that dependant order, in which from the first moment of their creation they have perpetually been moving, shivered of itself: the loosened orbs, thus disunited, began to roll with an inconceivable swiftness through the vast expanse of space, and met and shocked each other in the dark vacuity! The sun, now robbed of light, whirled rapid and irregular ! The moon let loose her seas, and rained a deluge in her falling! The fixed stars, that from the birth of time had kept their appointed stations, no longer awed by the all-powerful Word, broke loose, and rushed together. Prodigious was the sound, and horrible the conflict! The ele

ments, forgetting their respective qualities, and urged by the immutable decree, met all, and mixed, and lost themselves in ruinous confu. sion!

When all seemed buried in profoundest darkness, the wild uproar ceased at once: and as I wondered at this sudden silence, a pyramid of fire broke through, that in a moment enwrapped the whole; and having nothing left to prey upon, at length devoured itself.

Thus was the end of all !- When, from that inaccessible brightness where the Divine Presence conceals, yet makes itself known, a beam of day shot out, which lighting up the infinite extent of heaven, and rendering it transparent, discovered all its glories. I then perceived the stream of life, which running through the midst of heaven, quickened wherever it rolled, and watering the tree of knowledge, nourished it eternally. Next, I saw numberless swarms of beings like myself, that filled the vastness of infinitude; and seemed lost, like me, in wonder, praise, and adoration ! I heard a voice (which had more influence than the most perfect har mony of human art, and communicated itself to all alike) cry, “ Come, eat of the Tree of Knowledge, and drink of the Water of Life.” Immediately the angelic host, and all the

children of earth (who, by obedience to this command, were become one and the same), ate and drank as they were commanded. The first effect of this that I found on myself, and perceived in all the rest, was a perfect recollection of whatever I had done since my first entering into life. Various were the consequences ! The ungrateful, the murderer, the miser, the false friend, and the rebel, remembered with horror their past crimes, and grew frantic at every thought, with the consciousness of what they merited. They felt the severest pangs of that most lively of all torments, despair ! But the just, and those who had the least to reproach themselves with, found, yet, they had too much to answer for, when, in the book of record (which was thrown open to the view of all), they perceived that the minutest of their thoughts were registered.

Now we all became sensible how easy the rule was by which we were to have lived, and how adapted to the required obedience of hur man nature. Whilst we were thus lamenting our unhappy states, and aggravating our misery by self-conviction, in an instant we discovered a fiercer blaze of light, and beheld the mystic veil drawn off, that shrowded the Almighty's presence. Raised on a throne, to which the

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